Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Blues Comes Home Team BBQ

Home Team BBQ - West Ashley and out at Sullivan's Island - is filling the musical gap for The Blues.

Thank you Fiery Ron.

The lighting is terrible in both places (for a photographer) but the sound is fantastic.

And you're there to listen.

Or, it appears, some just are there to take "selfies," but that's not the type of photography I mean.

I'm there to catch a good, representative picture of the performers.

Some nights are better than others. I've just had a nice run. Take Mac Arnold and his Plate Full Of Blues.

I can't really fault the stage lighting this time - he kept his distinctive  trademark black cowboy hat on all night.

But if you're patient - and don't get jostled too much by energetic dancers - you get at least a glimpse of this legendary Blues man's face.

I didn't remember, or probably never knew,  Mac is a local South Carolinian.

Or, as he pronounces it Cakalaki. 

He invited us all up to his hometown of Greenville April 23-25 for his 9th annual Cornbread and Collard Greens Blues Festival at his restaurant.

I'm sure the menu touts his BLUE(S) Plate Special.

Saw lots of familiar fans of the Blues last night. A few even ventured out onto the dance floor.

I tend to sit back - camera in hand - to observe and try to catch that special shot. 


Nope, I try not to ever pop that distracting bright light. 

I work with whatever the club's sound & lighting guy has provided.

Another Blues-Man-In-A-Hat recently here was Brandon Santini who hadn't played Charleston in about 5 years.

Ever since Shrimp City Slim cancelled his two-week February annual Blues Bash after a long, long 21 year run last year, a few others have tried to bring in Blues legends.

It's very much alive in the Holy City and Fiery Ron's Home Team two clubs have been very very good for the Blues.

Understand there will be a third Home Team soon and that will benefit players who can work "the local circuit" for several nights. 

Back when I still worked for the Post and Courier, promoting InfoLine, I was in contact with more than 100 LOCAL musical groups. 

Many were singles, but there also were duos and trios. 

Santini appeared with similar lighting at Home Team a few weeks ago and last week, the Sullivan's Island stage featured Sean Chambers.

So, once in a while, the player's face will catch some  stage lighting and I can capture something moody.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

I also shoot color under adverse lighting conditions but The Blues really lends itself to black & white.

Sit back, have a beer and enjoy.

Be blue.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

...for the kneady people

Always something goin' on at Andolini's.

They once had a tip jar that said "Tips Make For Good Karma."

Who would dare NOT to be generous?

On the last Super Bowl Sunday, there were TWO tip marked Seahawks and the other Patriots.

Staff had it covered, either way the big game went.

On a recent, cold, rainy night, battling heavy traffic on Rivers Avenue,  I was getting close to Andolini's,

"Think I'll just pull in here, grab a pizza and head home for a quiet evening."
S0, I did.

As usual, they were well prepared for take-away clients so I settled down at the bar as my dinner was being prepared.

That's when I saw the latest tip jar.

There's a local Blues promoter and piano player who always reminds the crowd they should take care of the bartender and their server,

Then he adds "Tipping is not a city in China."

Have not seen that message at Andolini's yet.

I watched as this young lady rapidly folded the cardboard pizza boxes and reached up as high as she could, to place the one on top.

Glad they didn't need just one more, the stack may have toppled over.

In the past I often have eaten my pie right there in a booth.

Well, not the whole thing!

They have  smaller boxes for those who want to take some slices home.

Made for a nice breakfast this morning.

Hot coffee and cold pizza.

Oh, and another slice for a late lunch.

Because I am on a diet, I skipped dinner. Burp.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

To give proper credit, the Blues guy who gives advice on thanking the wait staff, has Shrimp City in his name.

My pizza had pepperoni.

And, I left a nice tip.

Good Karma.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Now you see you don't.

My brothers and I grew up in downtown Charleston and enjoyed walking over to Colonial Lake on our way to making mischief and getting into trouble in the harbor. 

Jerry, my older brother,  once actually took off his shoes and tried to walk around in the Lake's shallow water.

That made sense.
"Ugh! Icky mud. Eewee," was his report as I recall.

He led by example. 
Dennis and I never tried to wade there.

The Sgt. Jasper apartments were not built then so I don't recall any high-rise background. But, I was a kid so most things looked tall.

Joan Perry, a friend of mine - and fellow Blogger (Charleston Daily Photos) - took this picture around the holidays, before the whole area was cordoned off for a year-long restoration project.

Lately, the demise of the now-empty 14-story apartment building has been in the news and neighbors are protesting proposed building planned for the desirable, downtown location.

I got curious as how much I could do to simulate the soon-to-be empty parcel of land.

Thanks to the Clone brush on my Photoshop Elements 10, I made the whole thing disappear. "Poof!"

The trick was to fill in the now-empty space with trees and sky. I also had to deal with the reflection of the Sgt. Jasper on the lake's surface.

It turned out not too bad.

I will wait until I hear what the builders finally get approval to start construction before I dabble with the Charleston skyline again.

The neighbors probably would like it to stay this way.

(Click on the before and after shots.)

I could add a grocery store.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

When "Old" is "New" again....

Years ago, when I was young, married and living in San Diego, I drove a sporty car.

Not really designed for harsh weather, but a delight in usually sunny Southern California.

To romp in the snow, you had  to make an effort.

A Sunday drive up to the nearby mountains to see snow. And ice and all that other horrible part of Winter.

But, back then, it was a fun jaunt into something different.

Now, it's many years and many cars later.

I drive a proper sedan with roll-up windows and a good heater.

I'm back where I was born and remembering the cozy small photo darkroom I had set up at our house downtown in Ansonborough.

Being a high school photographer at Bishop England taught me many technical skills that still serve me well as an aging, retired camera-toter.

Oh, the cameras are much smaller now and it's digital instead of film...but hey,  not always.

In fact, a person can pick up some great bargains in cameras and lenses like I grew up with.

Film cameras and equipment is languishing online as digital Nikon and Canon, Sony and Kodak SLRs (Single lens reflex) command top dollar.

Craigslist, eBay, and other online  sites offer equipment that cost an arm and a leg in the past - when I was buying - and now are VERY affordable.

You don't even have to build your own photo lab.

"Learn Black and White in the Charleston Darkroom," is the headline on a flyer I just saw from CunningFox Photography Education.

Yep, a complete film processing and print making darkroom facility staffed by professionals and open to the public for reasonable rates.

I doubt that many remember when hubbub on the street would bring a mother and her children out to see a pony plodding along on the sidewalk.

Waiting to pose for a picture of the little one astride the noble steed!

Well, my brothers and I had our "riding picture" taken on the corner of Society and Meeting Streets.

I believe the itinerant pony wrangler provided the fancy chaps and kerchief and cocked my hat at a jaunty angle before he froze the fast-paced  action with his camera.

Which brings up another point in these modern times.

Will our children have snapshots like these, available in albums,  to pass around?

Will there be writing on the back to identify the who, what, when and where of the event pictured?

I am still finding albums overflowing with snapshots that my folks had (sometimes) tagged with identifications and pasted on the black pages of a photo binder.

But now, a picture is taken with a digital  camera - or with a phone - and you see the image immediately on a small screen on the back of the camera or cell phone.

It may be posted on Facebook or on a variety of other online social media sites, but  there is no print to stick in an album or stuff in a shoe box.

I miss not having a negative to protect and save in a glasine envelope. for future reprints.

Oh, we have digital back-ups and cloud storage but is any of this as permanent as a photo in an album?

Already we have seen "storage" of images on floppy disks and on video tapes.

But can they be retrieved and showed again. Uh, no, the equipment is no longer available.

In music recordings, we passed from 78 records to vinyl playback machines to 8-track, to cassettes and CDs and now you pay 99 cents for the one song you like instead of $15- $20 for an CD or LP album with 12 songs.

I think this Charleston Darkroom concept is a good one. Making a tangible product you can have in your hand.

Something to keep and pass along to others.

I found a tintype photo of my father's mother when she was a baby. It was tucked into the back of an album I was looking through. It was taken in 1895.

I can hold it out to show it to others.

And I do.

(Click on the photos if you like black & white.)

This is the way it used to be done.

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Saturday, February 07, 2015

Huge! And this is just the outside...

I had to meet some people downtown last week, near where I grew up.

Had not walked around Ansonborough in a while so thought I'd go check out the construction going on nearby.

Walked up Anson Street, and looked across from what had been my K-6 school house at St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

Over there was a 3-story tenement when I was a kid. Later, those were torn down and Gaillard Municipal Auditorium rose on that site bounded by Anson, Calhoun and George Streets.

Now, for several years, that facility had been "under renovation."

Duh, seems to me, it had been removed completely and a new music hall and events center was going up in its place.

Appears it is surrounded by offices to which, I understand, the City plans to relocate a lot of employees.

They're scattered all over town so that seems like a wise use of newly-built space.

Hear the staff move-ins will happen before the final acoustic touches are made to the new cultural music center.

As you walk your way around the full-block structure, the future offices are easy to spot.

Almost makes me want to go back to work and have a nice space there.

But, no, being retired is the good life that I anticipated greatly and have enjoyed for almost 11 years!

But standing at this corner on George Street, I get my first glimpse of "the rest of the building!"


Rising tall on several high levels, I realize I had just been looking at the smaller aspects of this gigantic undertaking.

Fortunately, I was standing now by the adjacent parking garage and worked my way up to the 5th level, the rooftop.

Now the overall scope was more obvious.

What a spectacular view of this newest addition to the many assets of my hometown city.

I had gone away as a teenager to join the Marines. 

After many, many years, living in California, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota and Florida, I had found my way back to the Holy City about 20 years ago.

Looking down at the Calhoun Street entrance, with its still-wrapped columns, the grandeur and lofty aspirations became more clear to me.

I feel for the neighbors who have had to bear the noise and vibrations as the mighty edifice slowly rose.

I hope they are repaid that tedious period manyfold as they enter,marvel and enjoy this new jewel in the crown of Charleston culture.

I was greatly impressed as a soft breeze blew over me on the almost deserted rooftop of a welcome parking structure downtown.

When events start to happen her, the high-rise lot will be filled and people will lift their heads in pride as they enter this new palace to the arts.

Now, spectacular as this is, this was just and exterior view. Safety and construction limits access for the public to venture inside.

But, I had covered that several years ago by posing in front of a large, colorful sketch of what was to come.

It was hanging on the wall of the TD Arena and I thought ahead as to what I wanted to portray.

I was looking back at the camera as if I were seated in one of the proposed balconies.

This was before anything on site had popped up above ground.

I truly was "looking ahead" as I peered behind me.

The "seat" I had chosen afforded a good view of the stage and the overall panorama of a world-class music center.

Naturally I will be dressed up later this year when the finishing touches are done and we the public come inside to see what had been created.

On the site of tenements back in the 1950s, where I had delivered copies of the News & Courier newspaper half a century before.

Yes, I am glad that, after my travels here and overseas, I had returned to my Charleston roots.

You don't forget your home...complete with the scent of pluff mud.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Day With The Troops...

Well, at the 11th annual Battle of Charleston, you expect to see men in gray working their butts off loading and firing cannons. 
And muskets. 
And pistols.

They are aiming at guys in blue, who, as I heard someone say today, "are working for Union scale."

But, this year, it was more than JUST the War Between The States, The War of Northern Aggression or, even, the Recent Unpleasantness.
The organizers also included Robert E. Lee (David Chaltas, a reenactor and author from Kentucky) hobnobbing with Citadel cadets garbed in WWII outfits.

The "General" was all over Legare Farm this Saturday, encouraging his troops and staying in character throughout.

Also highly visible were Redcoats representing the Revolutionary war and German and American soldiers looking over wares together in a field "PX"  before performing drama from the "Battle of the Bulge" in World War two.

Back to the past. And some curious - and funny - juxtapositions.

One bonus for me on this day of military  time travel was the chance to once again hold in my hands a Garand M-1.

The last time was in 1960 when I turned mine in on leaving the Marines to accept a college scholarship.

I had forgotten they weigh about 10 pounds and are almost four feet long. And that's before you are told to "Fix bayonet"!

The ladies were there in their 1860s fashions and I was able to pose a situation that had gone through my mind before.

The reality of modern and historic coming to a head, so to speak.

She was gracious and smiling, and I think, the caption says it all.

I met 10-year old Bryson Boosinter at the front gate when I first arrived and, later, when he was drumming on the field of battle amidst the smoke and noise and falling bodies.

His parents checked to make sure all the elements of his uniform were correct, and in place, and off he went to march to his own drummer.

Taylor Glazier, 26, portrayed a private in the 3rd US Infantry, Company G, as he stood watch over the Civil War era campsite.

I caught him taking a sip of water from his canteen and joined in, screwing off the cap of my plastic bottle of natural spring water.

I ended my afternoon as the blue and the gray came together to "parlay" and fire some black powder volleys with their muskets.

There was at least another skirmish on tap but I needed to head home.

The whole show repeats again tomorrow at Legare Farm on Johns Island.

The weather was bright and sunny today and they forecast similar for Sunday.

The other "war" happens Sunday in the 49th Super Bowl so I'll be camped in front of the big screen tv. No hardtack, goobers, or Johnnie cakes for me.

It's pepperoni pizza time.

Soon we will not be a nation divided.

The Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots will prevail and peace will come to the land.

Did I mention I love pizza?

(Click on the photos for some amazing details.)

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mural restoration....dots before my eyes.

A friend of mine, Joan Perry, posted on her blog her picture of the faded and marred mural seen on one wall of the Sotille Theater.

It is covered with adhesive "dots" left when tiles were taken down.

Not sure why it was covered over  but, during a restoration,  this hidden treasure was revealed.

My brothers and I grew up living on the peninsula and attended movies at all of the places downtown. The Riviera, Majestic, American and Palace.

We knew this as the Gloria Theater.

Frankly, I remember the blue sky overhead in a large circle - with little white lights for stars - but I don't recall large paintings on either wall.

I was a kid and more interested in the movie playing and making trips to the lobby for popcorn, sodas and candy.

Joan did research on its history and said plans are to restore it to its former glory.

Heck, I am impatient and sat for a while applying effects from my Topaz Plug-In. It's like Photoshop.

 Here is my version of how I think it will look.

Thank you Joan for your delightful blog which inspired me to start mine 8 years ago. I did all this editing of your photo without permission from you to do so. Yikes.

Like my habit of belated fact-checking, I jumped the gun and hope you are pleased.

(Click on both to see the before and the after.)

One of the Topaz tools lets me adjust the perspective a bit, to make it appear more square.

Of course, the camera does not lie.

* wink * wink

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Fervid fans....

A recent visiting photog friend lives in Seattle. 

Well, his house is there but he works overseas. In Germany.

Frequently he has relatives come from Washington state to visit and he conducts mini-tours all around Europe.

Now I know he also stuffs his Seattle Seahawks Fan Flag in his backpack. 

Driving him around taking pictures on the Isle of Palms, he had me jam on the brakes in front of a house painted - to me - an unsettling shade of green.

Bet the neighbors love that person!

He gets back home to Seattle several times a year but happened to be in Paris when his team came from behind to set their sights on a back-to-back Super Bowl.

Just after the horrific terrorist attack there, police and nerves were on edge so he was discreet as he quietly celebrated with his team.  

In his backpack, he also carries a smaller "12th Man" banner with him.

I appreciate that kind of fan loyalty and wonder if the symbol right now for the New England Patriots is a deflated football?

That would easily fit in someone's luggage or

Speaking of avid fans, I enjoyed the three comic headliners brought in for the Theatre 99's 12th annual Charleston Comedy Festival.

The Sotille Theater was the venue for all three and gave me different experiences for each show.

Hannibal Buress came out and immediately told us that people walk up to him and say "you're that rapist guy!"

He corrects them and says "Bill Cosby is the rapist."

He had mentioned Cosby one time during a comedy bit and said the man should stop worrying about young men wearing their pants too low and, instead he should keep his pants on!

The now well-known tale of a younger Cosby allegedly doping young ladies and abusing them sexually is what prompted Buress' reference. 

A video of him saying that surfaced on You Tube and went viral.

He mentioned it several times this night at the Sotille and added people said he should "protect" Cosby's legend.

To that he responded "Well, OK, regarding his legacy, let's stop calling the date rape drug a "roofie" and start calling it a "cosby."

 The mainly young crowd seemed to like that and applauded.

Naturally, as usual, I believe I was the oldest person in the audience and perhaps had deeper appreciation of Cosby humor as a stand up comic, long before his hit tv family series.

Remember "Noah?"

Buress presented an interesting stage presence.

A DJ was set up onstage for 30 minutes before the show started, playing rap.

He remained there at the back of the huge, deep stage bringing up sound bites as part of the innovative take on different rap artists ...repeating just a few words of the tag line.

Guess you had to be there.

Two ladies came out at the end to dance around,  doing ballet-type moves and the strange mixture oddly enough all came together nicely.

The next night I saw a more "traditional" stand up comic in 32-year old SNL alum John Mulvaney.

As the link explains he worked with
Bill Hader to create the Stefon character.

He came out and looked at the wooden stool with one bottle of water on the floor and another atop the stool.

"Ah, just the way I wanted it... in case I happen to fall down during my presentation," he quipped.

The house lights were kept up as Mulvaney had us laughing so I tried to time taking a picture of him looking away.

Comedians really don't like cameras and videos.

A good routine that ends up on You Tube takes away some of the spontaneous comedic impact when performed again later in another venue.

They also don't like to have their concentration broken either.

I respect that.

The third headliner - Doug Benson - was a delight on many levels.

The audience was high on Doug and, possibly, vice versa.

He encourages his fans to tweet - during the show  - and he looks around the venue and calls out names of those who tweeted!

Then reads what they said and gives a comic ad lib reaction.


On his movie podcast, he has people compete to be the last one standing in naming movies by a particular actor.

Six fans in the know came with prepared signs and banners to be selected to go up on the stage.

 They were challenged to name the different movies starring  DenzelWashington. Wow, there were a lot and they did well.

Eventually a single guy holding an ALF doll was the winner of a red sack filed with weird gifts.

Throughout the show Benson was enamored of the logo and name "Kickin' Chicken" that was on the cup he carried and sipped from.

He asked the audience to shout out alternate names for the local eatery and decided he liked Rockin' Rooster.

Did I mention all of his humor was marijuana related?

The Sotille is a non-smoking venue.

Of anything.

But he suggested some entrepreneurs go out and start a restaurant named after the rooster.

Maybe he was getting the munchies?

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Monday, January 12, 2015

"Hey, weight a minnit..."

Joe Weider, the man behind the famed body-builder
Arnold Schwarzenegger, now has turned his attention to me and my body.

Believe me, I need all the help I can get!

Well, Mr. Weider is not giving me a hand personally.

I just bought a used home weight system with his name on it and I have high hopes.

Yes, it's only early January in 2015 but already such exercise equipment is on sale. Found this on Craigslist.

I noticed it was dusty.

In a few more weeks I suppose the crowds will be smaller at gyms and fitness centers as reality overpowers even the most sincere best intended New Year's resolutions.

 This 200-pound machine was purchased at Sears and delivered in a large box on a big truck to its new owner three months ago.

I searched last week for one like this - or similar - and Craigslist popped up with this winner.

I called because the price was lower than at the stores. Did he still have it for sale?

Yes he did and I drove over - using my Smartphone's GPS  to navigate -  and pulled up in his driveway.

About a month ago, he had removed the Weider 6900 from the box and carefully assembled it in his garage.

I did not ask why, after only a month, he had decided he didn't need it. Who knows, maybe a month from now, I too might offer it up for sale?

Fortunately, I have plenty of room for exercise equipment.

My dad, a carpenter and cabinetmaker, had built his 50' x 20' workshop after they moved from the peninsula (Ansonborough) to Hanahan in 1962.

I call this my "Charleston Basement"  because of all the space I have downstairs.

And to watch eyebrows raise to envision anyone having a basement in our below-sea-level-Lowcountry.

After my dad had passed away, I found Lowe's would sell "mistake-mixed" paints very cheaply so I brightened up the spacious but dull workshop with bright colors.

 I had toyed with the idea of moving up to a full weight bench with metal plates and barbells.

Did not like the idea of trying to press heavy weights without a "spotter" to insure I did not have a mishap while alone and be in trouble.

(I had a boat for years and did not go out alone. Less boating but more shared good times with others on board.)

Instead, I liked the idea of ten weights (12.5 pounds each) which could be combined and moved with pulleys and cables to provide varied resistance as I worked on different parts of my body.

I quickly learned that you balance the number of rep(ititions)
 you do versus the weights involved.

Different results if you lifted heavier loads fewer times or more times with  less weights.

This came with a nice chart showing about 36 different ways to tone specific muscles.

And suggested regimens to set and meet specific body building goals.

I am so glad the previous owner had patiently - and correctly - put all of these parts together.

It works smoothly and I am experimenting with using a different number of heavy plates.

After only 3 days of working out ways to work out, I feel this is working out well.

The "basement," over the years, has seen several treadmills come and go. The last two came from Play It Again, Sports

When one burned out (the mother board started smoking!) the guys helped me choose my current Horizon model.

They do this a lot and made moving in the new and hauling out the old a simple procedure.

I just walk (fast) instead of jogging or running on my treadmill and that takes 30 minutes of my 5x a week exercising.

I did the annual Bridge Run for 13 years - walking rather than running.

Did my first run, er, walk, the last year the 2-lane John P. Grace was used; many years on the 3-lane Pearman,  and did my final walk on the 8-lane Ravenel.

So, until the city builds a new bridge across the Cooper River, I guess that's it for me.

But my walking continues.

The treadmill faces a small tv set, and, using my ROKU, I can stream Netflix movies and series onto the screen and be entertained.

It makes the half-hour walk more interesting.

(Click on the photos for more details.)

As noted earlier, this is my 800th posting on my 8-year old blog.

I started Web Logging a few years after I retired from The Post and Courier, my 200+ years old local newspaper.

I've written about a diet I started early last summer so this new phase of exercise equipment continues that weight-loss effort.

Yes, I am using weights to lose weight.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Interesting weather....

A few days ago I hosted an out-of-town photographer friend and we rallied through a rainy, foggy weekend.

Got sort of damp but never really soaked. We deftly stepped inside the Sand Dollar Social Club on Folly Beach as a cell of tremendous rain slowly passed, dumping torrents of water down from the sky.

My white Saturn was parked at the curb and, as I watched, the gutter filled, then overflowed toward the front door.

Inside, bar regulars were recounting the many time such a storm had hit at high tide and a barrier had to be put in place to keep out the watery invader.

This was happening at low tide and fortunately, quickly subsided.

It was too wet for a chance to hike out past the washout surfing part of the beach to the end of the island.

Wanted to have my friend try some shots of the iconic lighthouse, sitting out from shore on the "missing" Morris Island.

Back in the 1930s, my folks had rowed out there and the lighthouse keeper gave them a tour and a walk around the grounds - when there still was property - and of his house.

 But, while the weather kept changing, there was no rain at White Point Gardens.

Here he got to share our splendid views of the many oak trees.

Did not get to show him Angel Oak but we toured the historic Market area and saw many souvenir paintings and photos of that huge, rugged 1,500 year old woody survivor.

Throughout the weekend, we dodged rain, endured fog and low clouds and spent a lot of time indoors.

I wanted him to be dazzled as the sunlight made the cables on the Ravenel Bridge give the appearance of full sails in the harbor.

That is what the designers planned and we certainly have seen that effect on bright, shiny days.

Instead, he snapped this shot while I kept my eyes on the road.

This was taken with his iPhone camera.

Then, as I drove, he fiddled with built-in processing controls and created this high-contrast "sketch."

I like the raindrops on the windshield.

I wish he had been in town a few days earlier.

A bright moon in the afternoon sky was a bit unusual for me to capture on New Year's Eve..

Different from the usual night view, seen against a coal black sky.

The tree branches in the foreground were a bonus too,  not usually seen in a night photo.

It also was clear.

No rain nor fog.

(Click on the photos for more detail.)

Keep in mind, I did NOT take the photo on the Ravenel.  Both of my hands were on the wheel, eyes watching the road and traffic.

We are polite and want our visitors to be safe.

*This is my 799th posting on my 8-year old blog. Hmm, works out to about 100 per year.
My tracking program show viewers in all 50 states, two U.S. Territories (Guam and Puerto Rico), and 167 foreign countries.

Hope something neat and worthwhile happens for my 800th one!

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